When I was a kid, I was pretty much addicted to video games. The Nintendo NES just came out and I would spend hours at my aunt’s house since she had a Nintendo and I didn’t and I would play Super Mario Brothers over and over again, looking for powerups, secret pipes, and doing anything to make it to the next level. Eventually I got my own system, the TurboGraphix 16, and then the Sega Genesis. Overtime I sold, traded and purchased console systems and now as a grown man I have amassed a nostalgic console collection that induces high fives from all grown men who grew up in the Atari and NES era. This generation wasn’t trained on game Achievements, or unlockable content like todays generation, we were focused on getting to the next level.
- Poly String
Construction and Design:
|Looks Great||Looks Good||Looks not so good|
|Nickel Plated Brass weight rings||Finish hard to see on black anodizing||No IRG|
|Incredible “Diamond Style” finish||Standardized C-bearing and response||Limited color options|
|Mirrored Cap||Caps get worn quickly|
YoYoJam and Hiroyuki “Mickey” Suzuki recently parted ways. Shortly before Mickey left, YoYoJam created the plastic yo-yo called the Chaser. The response in the yo-yo community was very positive. Right away Dale started creating a metal version for release. This metal version would be a bit wider and a slight bigger in diameter. When Mickey left the team to pursue YoYoAddict, YoYoJam finished initial design on the metal Chaser, and added one of the most incredible finishes I have ever seen on a modern yo-yo. Now rebranded as the Next Level, the metal chaser has nickel coated brass weight rings on the outer rim, mirror caps, and a bead blast finish that creates a diamond pattern. The look on the aluminum body is incredible.
|Great!||Not so great…|
|Smooth play||Plays a bit hollow|
|Grinds very well||Felt handicapped by the caps|
|Fantastic on regens|
|Snappy response system|
The Next Level has a fantastic play feel to it. The weight placement is superb and the yo-yo is very responsive to directional changes. I found the Next Level performing very well on regens and transitions between both large and tight movements. Grinds on the new diamond finish were amazing. I wish the catch zone were just a bit more open for greater interaction with the new finish.
All the great play aside, I think that what holds this yo-yo back is the caps. I dig the look of mirror caps. They catch the light and draw the eye, but yo-yo cups are becoming more and more part of yo-yo play. If YoYoJam had masked off the cup during anodization and polished it reflective, I think it would have had the same effect that they were going for. As it is, the cap blocks the inner ring groove, and the hub for finger spins tricks. I also know that over time, if history is any measure, the caps will get loose giving me unfavorable play. I also wish that the Next Level was available in more than Black and Blue. There is a 24k Gold version that will be at the YoYoExpert booth at Worlds next weekend, but I would love to see this finish on pink, green, red, or purple.
I love YoYoJam. They are extremely consistent with the quality and artistic designs but I feel that their reliance on side caps is reducing the “Buy it Now” factor all yo-yoers face when looking at available yo-yos on the market. The yo-yo play style has evolved and yo-yos with functional sides are becoming more and more popular. I think what needs to happen is for YoYoJam to leave the side cap choice up to the player. I don’t want to remove my mirror caps because I don’t know how the yo-yo will play without them. Dropping 2 grams can be unpredictable and I honestly don’t want to damage the caps in case I change my mind. Now if the caps were delivered loose in the box upon purchase, that would be ideal.
Bottom line – The Next Level has an incredible finish inside the catch zone and delivers impressive play, but is held back by a capped off side cup.
Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen who going to try out for the Summer Olympics once they create an Artistic Eating division
– Pictures in the background are of my family members over the last century